Israeli archaeologists discovered remains from the period of the first biblical Jewish Temple on the Jerusalem site where it allegedly stood, the Israel Antiquity Authority said Sunday.
The finds, including fragments of ceramic table wares and animal bones, date from the eighth to the sixth centuries BC, archaeologists said.
The objects were discovered on what is known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as Haram a-Sharif or the Noble Sanctuary, and is considered holy to both faiths. The site is a perennial Jerusalem flashpoint in the Arab-Israeli conflict.
John Seligman from the Antiquity Authority said it was the first time remains from the first temple period, during the Iron Age, had been discovered at the site.
"This level (of ground) has not been touched since the first temple period, until now," he told Deutche Presse-Agentur dpa, noting the discovery was made about one month ago.
He said the findings will likely help indicate the boundaries of the Temple Mount during the period in question, although no direct archaeological remains have yet been discovered from the temple itself, known as Solomon's Temple after the Jewish king who built it.
The first temple is said to have been completed in the 10th century BC and was destroyed about 400 years later by the invading Babylonian army.
The discovery was made while the authority supervised maintenance work being conducted by the Islamic Waqf religious trust on the Temple Mount/Haram a-Sharif compound.
Earlier this year, an Israeli walkway project and excavations, unrelated to the recent find, near the compound, sparked worldwide Muslim fury and led to running protests in Jerusalem. The site, which includes the al-Aqsa mosque, is Islam's third holiest and is where Muslims believe the Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven.
The compound is the holiest site in Judaism as it contains the archaeological remnants of the second biblical temple destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD, and abuts the Western Wall, the only surviving structure pertaining to that temple. dpa sg pb